Man overboard from stern trawler Enterprise with loss of 1 life

Location: 16nm north of Dogger Bank, North Sea.

Accident Investigation Report 13/2016

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened and safety lessons learned:

MAIB investigation report 13-2016: Enterprise

Enteprise vessel photograph


The skipper of the fishing trawler Enterprise fell overboard through one of the vessel’s ports for shooting fishing nets when he lost his footing in rough weather. He was not wearing a lifejacket or other buoyancy aids. The crew took between 30 and 40 minutes to recover the skipper, and their subsequent efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.The vessel was 16nm north of the Dogger Bank in the North Sea at the time of the accident.

Safety Issues

  • Enterprise’s permanently open shooting ports did not comply with the bulwark height requirements and presented a hazardous working area for the crew

  • The unsafe nature of the shooting ports had not been recognised by the vessel’s owner, the MCA or the crew

  • The skipper did not don a lifejacket or change into appropriate clothing and footwear before working on deck

  • The loss or incapacitation of the skipper had not been anticipated and no procedures to assist with this eventuality had been developed

  • Increased familiarity with the manoverboard recovery equipment available on board and frequent manoverboard drills would have helped the crew in their efforts to recover the skipper from the sea

  • A “Mayday” was not transmitted until approximately 40 minutes after the skipper fell overboard

Actions Taken

The MCA has revised the relevant Merchant Shipping Instructions to Surveyors (MSIS 27) to ensure that the bulwark height requirements are properly applied to all UK flag fishing vessels and has commenced a targeted campaign to implement these instructions.


The MCA has been recommended (2016/126) to: urgently take steps to ensure that Enterprise’s compliance with the minimum bulwark height requirements is reviewed and addressed in accordance with MSIS 27.

The owner of Enterprise has been recommended (2016/127 and 2016/128) to: review its vessels’ risk assessments to ensure that they properly consider the risks of falling overboard and the loss or incapacitation of the skipper while at sea; and put in place procedures to ensure it complies with the regulatory requirements for the reporting of accidents.

A safety flyer highlighting a number of the safety issues was produced for this report.

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